This portrait miniature of Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (known as “Nelly”), the youngest of Martha Washington’s three granddaughters, is a copy of Gilbert Stuart’s oil portrait of 1804. Nelly came to live at Mount Vernon with her brother George Washington Parke Custis after the death of her father John Parke Custis and her mother’s remarriage. While living with the Washingtons, Nelly was painted by many of the same artists that captured her adoptive parents, and she eventually developed significant artistic talents herself. On February 22, 1799, Nelly married George Washington’s nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and the young couple’s first child was born at Mount Vernon shortly before Washington’s death.
An oval miniature half-length portrait of Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, youngest granddaughter of Martha Washington, after a portrait by Gilbert Stuart. She is shown seated and facing proper right. She wears a short-sleeved white dress with a raspberry pink sash. Her eyes are brown, as is her hair, which is worn up on her head and adorned with cornflower-blue flowers. Her left arm is bent at the elbow, and she rests her chin on her hand, where a wedding band is visible. The background is in a warm brown color.
The portrait is set in a gold-colored metal frame with elaborate floral garlands, a brown velvet spandrel inset with a metal bow in each corner, and an easel back. The reverse is covered in a red silk damask.
Watercolor on ivory; metal, silk, velvet
Overall (Miniature alone): 3 13/16 in. × 3 1/8 in. (9.68 cm × 7.94 cm)
Other (frame): 8 7/16 in. × 6 3/4 in. (21.43 cm × 17.15 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Lyttleton B. P. Gould, Jr., M. Chapin Krech, Dr. Shepard Krech, Alvin W. Krech, Peter Chapin, Charles Chapin, and Mrs. Charles Merrill Chapin, III, in memory of Esther Maria Lewis Chapin, 1986
The artistâ€™s name, â€œBinatiâ€, is painted in a stylized manner in the background at lower proper left in the raspberry color of the sitterâ€™s sash.
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